Exit Interview 2019: John Mozeliak

Every year since 2012, we’ve spent some time after the season looking back at those that wore the Birds on the Bat.  Whether it’s a bit player that got into just a couple of games or someone that played almost every day, we’ll look at their stats, their positives, their negatives, and grade them based on what we would have expected from them.  The stat line is from their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers may include time with other teams, if applicable.  Think of this as like the players packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt–or in this case, Bill DeWitt–before they head off for the winter.  Once again, our great header work comes to us from cardinalsgifs, who continues to be a master.

If we’re talking about 2019, we’ve got to highlight the brand that made the most impact this season: Primos and their partnership with Jose Martinez.  Throughout the span of these interviews (today through Dec. 5) you can get 10% off your order of that sweet, sweet Cafecito coffee (well, I guess you probably have to doctor it to make it sweet) or anything else at their site.  My wife is a coffee snob and we’ve bought multiple bags of the medium roast.  It’s a great stocking stuff or Christmas gift as well, especially when you expand your order to pick up the Jose Martinez coffee mug.  So use code C70SAVE10 at checkout and show your support of their ties to the Cardinal fanbase!

President of Baseball Operations: John Mozeliak

Overall grade: C

Overview: While Mozeliak is the face of a lot of these decisions, the grade encompasses all that the front office, including ownership, has done over the past season.  On the face of it, that’s not a lot.

After last winter, when the Cards made the move for Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller, there have been minimal changes in the roster that did not come from internal options.  They claimed a minor league pitcher off of waivers from the Giants but dropped him off the 40-man in June when they added Tommy Edman.  They claimed Adalberto Mejia off of waivers from the Angels, had him pitch a couple of games, then put him back where they found him.  That’s it.  That’s the list that affected the 40-man, at least.  A couple of instances of sorting through someone else’s trash to see if they could find some value and failing.

Which was really a kick at the trade deadline, when there were obvious needs that went unanswered.  Michael Wacha wound up sufficing in the fifth spot through the rest of the season, but there were times when someone like Zack Wheeler would have been very helpful.  The fact that the package that it would have taken him would have been headlined by either Harrison Bader, who struggled all season long, or Tyler O’Neill, who hardly played after the deadline due to injury and managerial choice, made it feel like it was a case of the front office being way too possessive of the assets they had and not willing to take a risk, especially on a player that would be a free agent at the end of the season.

Bold moves are not necessarily the signature of this organization, however.  The two biggest trades of recent memory, Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna, cost depth pieces.  Pieces that were good–check out Carson Kelly in Arizona or Sandy Alcantara in Miami–but they weren’t the top pieces the Cardinals had.  Kelly needed to be moved and Alcantara was part of, at the time, a pretty deep reservoir of pitching.  These guys weren’t going to get a shot in St. Louis, so moving them didn’t necessarily inspire heartburn from the front office.

All signs are that this winter is going to be more than the same.  The Cardinals don’t have a lot of assets to move that are at a good value and people like Dylan Carlson and Nolan Gorman aren’t going anywhere.  (OK, I could see a situation where Gorman did, but it’d be a longshot.)  There’s a lot of talk about the Cardinals waiting out the market, which given the last couple of years might be a strategy that works for them, but given the payroll level that they are at, they aren’t going to be giving out any big contracts to any big players.  Heck, even Wheeler might be out of their range.

Outlook: The front office is all in on this analytic shift for the offense, removing anything that conflicts with Jeff Albert’s philosophy.  If that takes off the way that they hope it does, perhaps that will be “just as good as a trade” as the general offensive tide will rise.  Until then, though, the stellar reputation of the front office, the “trust in Mo” mantra, has taken quite a hit and honestly, the fan base is now is in full Missouri mode, not believing any intent or rumor before being shown.  It’s a far cry from a few years ago but the lack of a bold move, the contentment to be good enough instead of great, the defaulting to internal options no matter their real value, has really taken its toll.

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